Should a government who drafts, passes and enforces laws hold copyright to those laws? Carl Malamud, a Sebastapol, CA resident says no. The Press Democrat reports he is leading a fight to make sure that all types of government statutes, codes and other laws are available to anyone who wants them. He is posting a copy of all of CA’s code on a website. But the state of California claims copyright to those laws; it currently dictates how you can access and distribute them and how much it will cost you for print or digital copies.
California generates about $880,000 annually by selling its laws, according to the California Office of Administrative Law. I am not sure how New Jersey considers the copyright on the laws, but the legislature’s website has a horrible look-up facility which generates small sections of code one page at a time. No copyright is asserted on the bottom of each page.
I am sure this will end up in court at some point. it will be interesting to see how it turns out.